“Why be on the front line, when you can be on the front nine? Introducing the new Nigger 2000, the new golf ball for revolutionaries who just don’t have the time.”
New York Times
ART IN REVIEW
By KEN JOHNSON
Published: Friday, May 26, 2000
Barbara Ann Levy
453 West 17th Street
Through June 17
Charles McGill is an African-American artist who lives in Harlem. He also plays golf, a game that is still, notwithstanding the ascendancy of Tiger Woods, popularly thought of as an economically advantaged white man’s sport. As an artist, he slyly conflates these different aspects of his identity.
Under the auspices of a fictive label, ”Club Negro,” he has issued a line of satiric mock-commodities for black golfers. For example, a commercial-style display promoting new, Africanized golf balls titled ”The Hard to Swallow Suite” offers brands like the ”New Spook” (”If you can’t beat them, scare them,” reads the ad copy on the shelf) and the ”Malcom X” (”Guaranteed to improve your game by any means necessary”).
Elsewhere, Mr. McGill presents various decorative objects for the clubhouse. A glass-doored rack contains rows of balls inscribed by hand with disclaimers like ”I was never on Soul Train” or ”I can’t jump.” A wooden plaque displays a golf club festooned with dreadlocks; another is entirely papered by reproductions of old photographs depicting lynchings.
The collision Mr. McGill craftily sets up between incongruous worlds — the one traditionally overprivileged and effete, the other disenfranchised and funky — is at once funny and sobering. KEN JOHNSON